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Top 5 certifications for a Gap Year after College

Thinking of taking a gap year after college? While gap years aren’t for everyone, those that plan their gap years right definitely benefit from the time off. A common misconception amongst students is that a gap year is dedicated solely to traveling the world, volunteering for different charitable organizations in a very nomadic fashion. No doubt, this could be a great option for a gap year, but it is not the only option out there. A year is a long time, and a gap year can comprise of many different activities depending on your ultimate goal. This is a great time to learn some new skills to eventually make you more marketable in terms of your career. One of the ways of acquiring new skills is through taking courses that leave you with a certificate, degree or diploma upon completion. Here is a list of some certifications you may want to consider doing as part of your gap year:

1.      Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office certifications come in various levels. The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) on Microsoft Office 2013 is a good place to start. This certification proves you have advanced proficiency in using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, SharePoint and OneNote. Considering most businesses, big or small use Microsoft Applications on a daily basis; this certification will hold you in good stead in any work environment. Furthermore, holding an MOS certification can earn entry-level employees up to $16,000 more annually as opposed to their uncertified peers.

2.      Emergency First Response

Emergency First Response Courses teach you basic first aid skills and train you in how to use Automatic External Defibrillator as well as emergency oxygen. Knowing how to respond in case of an emergency is a handy skill whether at home or at work, for yourself and for others. If this sort of thing interests you, you may consider doing a more advanced medical assisting course. These certificate courses can be completed in a year and can also be done online, thus making for an ideal addition to your gap year that could most easily turn into a career of its own.

3.      Foreign Language

Doing a certificate course in any foreign language is a great investment. Knowing more than one language is a valuable asset these days, and can open up many doors for you. For example, if you work for a company with offices in different countries, knowing the language spoken in one of your international office locations may allow you to communicate for effectively with other employees, resulting in quicker advancement at work. Learning a foreign language opens up possibilities such as traveling to remote locations, teaching abroad, and also studying in a different country.

4.      Programming

Programming is similar to learning a foreign language – except it is the learning the language that computers speak. In today’s world, that is rapidly becoming technologized, it is an asset to know the basics of programming. Courses in C/C++ are abundant, and you might be able to do such a course on the likes of Khan Academy for free. You could also look at paid courses that provide you with a recognized certificate.

5.      Certifications based on passion

These certifications would vary from person to person. Getting certified in an area that you are passionate about can be very rewarding. Say you are passionate about hair and fashion. Getting a certificate in hairdressing would be a lot of fun, and after all, gap years should be fun. While this may not necessarily sharpen a particular skill set, you will learn something new that you care about. Other examples of things you can get certified for that may be interesting to you are scuba diving, yoga teaching, bartending, cooking/butchery and graphic design.

 Image source: Flickr's Creative Commons

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Top 5 certifications for a Gap Year after College

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